Information by Country

Maldives: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
Maldives is beginning to sustain economic gains from the tourism sector (which accounts for two thirds of the national gross domestic product), rebuild lost infrastructure and make significant strides in its reporting on – and ratification of – key human rights treaties. The emergence of new political parties, establishment of a national political reform road map and increased space for dialogue with civil society partners have increased the number of stakeholder opinions that need to be heard.

Maldives is on track to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015. The country has made great gains in the net enrolment ratio and increased literacy rates for both sexes. Key concerns in primary education include the country’s dependency on expatriate teachers; the fact that two thirds of Maldivian teachers in the atolls are untrained; the lack of reliable data to ascertain the quality of primary education in Maldives; and the lack of basic facilities, such as libraries, science laboratories and equipment. Another challenge is to provide access to primary education for children with special needs.

There is no significant gender disparity in primary and lower secondary education in Maldives.

Barriers to girls’ education

Major barriers to girls’ education include:

  • Transportation among islands can be prohibitively expensive; many children are at risk of being ‘invisible.’
  • On islands without secondary schools, parents are less willing to send their daughters away to other islands to receive an education.
  • Most children who are away from home for schooling, particularly girls, perform domestic chores in exchange for room and board with host families. These children are sometimes subjected to verbal, physical or sexual abuse.
  • Physical facilities in island schools, particularly toilets, are not girl-friendly.
  • Curriculum materials and textbooks have strong gender biases.
  • The tsunami disaster created a severe setback both in infrastructure and in human resource capacity.
  • A significant proportion of the teaching corps left the country after the tsunami.

UNGEI in action

UNGEI has not been formally launched, but girls’ education initiatives are ongoing.

Key initiatives for girls’ education

  • Construction and development of schools.
  • Training of school heads, supervisors and teachers in child-friendly approaches
  • Revision of school curricula to reflect learning outcomes for environmental studies and social studies, including civic education.
  • Education analysis and research to further develop the education policy.
  • Evaluation of the Child-Friendly School programme (2003–2007).
  • Implementation of behaviour change advocacy programmes.


Partners include the Maldivian Government and Ministry of Education, the British Council, Cambridge Education International, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, Voluntary Services Overseas and the World Bank, in addition to other non-governmental organizations, donors and the joint UN system.

UNGEI within other national and international frameworks

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and sector-wide approaches to planning (SWAPs); Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and UN Development Assistance frameworks exist at the national level.


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